BTT – Said Hanrahan

What’s your favourite book with weather events?

Hurricanes? Tornadoes? Blizzards? Real? Fiction? Doesn’t matter … weather comes up a lot in books, so there’s got to be a favorite somewhere…

This is a tough one to answer – I went back through my books for the year but the only ones where weather featured prominently (Snapshot, No Safe Haven) were books I loathed.

Instead, therefore, I dug out a favourite poem. Said Hanrahan by John O’Brien, an Australian poet in the fine tradition of A. B. Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson:

“We’ll all be rooned”, said Hanrahan, in accents most forlorn
Outside the church, ere Mass began one frosty Sunday morn’
The congregation stood about coat collars to the ears
And talked of stock and crops and drought as it had done for years
“It’s lookin’ crook” said Daniel Croke “Bedad it’s cruke me lad,
But never since the banks went broke has seasons been so bad”
“It’s dry all right” said young O’Neil with which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel and chewed a piece of bark
And so around the chorus ran “It’s keepin’ dry no doubt”
“We’ll all be rooned” said Hanrahan “Before the year is out”
“The crops are done, you’ll have your work to save one bag of grain
From here way out to Back o’ Bourke they’re singing out for rain”
“They’re singin’ out for rain” he said “And all the tanks are dry.”
The congregation scratched its head and gazed around the sky
“There won’t be grass, in any case enough to feed an ass
There’s not a blade on Casey’s place as I came down to Mass”
“If rain don’t come this month” said Dan and cleared his throat to speak
“We’ll all be rooned” said Hanrahan “If rain don’t come this week”
A heavy silence seemed to steal on all at his remark
And each man squatted on his heel and chewed a piece of bark
“We want an inch of rain, we do” O’Neil observed at last
But Croke “maintained” we wanted two to put the danger past
“If we don’t get three inches man or four to break this drought.
We’ll all be rooned” said Hanrahan “Before the year is out”
In God’s good time, down came the rain, and all the afternoon
On iron roof and window pane it drummed a homely tune
And through the night it pattered still and lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window sill kept talking to themselves
It pelted, pelted all day long a-singing at its work
Till every heart took up the song way out to Back o’ Bourke
And every creek a banker ran and dams filled overtop
“We’ll all be rooned” said Hanrahan “If this rain doesn’t stop”
And stop it did in God’s good time and Spring came into fold
A mantle o’er the hills sublime of green and pink and gold
And days went by on dancing feet with harvest hopes immense
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat nid-nodding o’er the fence
And, oh, the smiles on every face as happy lad and lass
Through grass knee deep on Casey’s place went riding down to Mass
While round the church in clothes genteel discoursed the men of mark
And each man squatted on his heel and chewed a piece of bark
“There’ll be bush fires for sure, me man, there will without a doubt
We’ll all be rooned” said Hanrahan “Before the year is out”

(I’m relatively sure this is out of copyright as it is now more than 50 years since the author’s death. Text from Wikipedia. I can’t find any decent recordings of readings, so you’ll have to take it from me that in the version I heard when I was about 15, Hanrahan has a wonderfully mopey Irish accent)


6 thoughts on “BTT – Said Hanrahan

  1. ggalegrant 1 September 2011 at 3:05 pm Reply

    Snow Falling on Cedars?

    • readingwithtea 1 September 2011 at 3:41 pm Reply

      Yes, true – I didn’t think of it before because I only looked at books I’ve read this year!

  2. Tia 1 September 2011 at 7:27 pm Reply

    Great poem!!

    Here’s mine

  3. Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books 3 September 2011 at 12:56 pm Reply

    Interesting – books in which weather figures prominently …

    I can imagine the accent 🙂 do you suppose “rooned” is “ruined” or “marooned”?

    THE CHILDREN’S BLIZZARD (David Laskin) is a very good weather-heavy book.

    • readingwithtea 3 September 2011 at 1:01 pm Reply

      It was rrrrrruned from memory, like marooned but with a heavily rolled R.

  4. […] September: “BTT: What’s your favourite book with weather events?” A BTT post in which I quote a favourite poem […]

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